Utah became the first U.S. state Thursday to sign into law legislation that attempts to limit teenagers’ access to social media sites.
Republican Gov. Spencer Cox signed a pair of measures that aim to limit when and where children can use social media and stop companies from luring kids to the sites.
Other states, such as Arkansas, Texas, Ohio and Louisiana have similar bills in the works.
The law requires companies to give parents access to their children’s accounts, puts a curfew on social media use from 10:30 p.m. to 6:30 a,m. as well as age verification for all Utah residents who want to use social media.
In addition to the parental consent provisions, social media companies would likely have to design new features to comply with parts of the law to prohibit promoting ads to minors and showing them in search results. Search and targeted advertising are two key revenue-generating mechanisms for many social media companies.
Cox cited more studies globally “showing that is causation between these poor outcomes, these poor mental health outcomes, and time spent on these social media and these apps.
“We remain very optimistic that we will be able to pass not just here in the state of Utah but across the country legislation that significantly changes the relationship of our children with these very destructive social media apps,” he said.
The move comes as parents and lawmakers are growing increasingly concerned about kids and teenagers’ use of social media and how platforms like TikTok, Instagram and others are affecting young people’s mental health.
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Utah’s law was signed on thee same day TikTok’s CEO testified before Congress about, among other things, TikTok’s effects on teenagers’ mental health
The law will take effect in March 2024 and Cox has previously said he anticipates social media companies will challenge it in court.
Tech industry lobbyists quickly decried the move as unconstitutional.
“Utah will soon require online services to collect sensitive information about teens and families, not only to verify ages, but to verify parental relationships, like government-issued IDs and birth certificates, putting their private data at risk of breach,” said Nicole Saad Bembridge, an associate director at NetChoice, a tech lobby group.
“These laws also infringe on Utahns’ First Amendment rights to share and access speech online — an effort already rejected by the Supreme Court in 1997.”
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